Moving abroad is an exciting and stressful time. The time between making the decision and leaving flies by; before you know it, your right in the thick of it, in a place you’re not familiar with and wondering where to start.
With all the stress of preparing documents, organising visa’s and getting immunisations, thinking about the smaller implications of living in a country that is not your own is the last thing on your mind; you probably didn’t think about the following things when packing your bags.
What do I eat if I don’t like the food?
If you’ve never been to the country before, how do you know if you like the food?
The world is full of strange and acquired tastes, and you’re not going to like all of them; Asia is home to some of the smelliest.
Your first stop in any country will undoubtedly be a city. With this, comes a variety of foods from surrounding country’s and Western food to accommodate all those fussy foreigners who are scared of noodles and vegetables they’ve never seen before.
Western food comes at a price, and it’s difficult to find the quality to match this. Should you be in a tourist-focused area, there’s a good chance you will find yourself paying $10 for the worst burger you have ever eaten.
For the good stuff, areas that are more focused on the ‘expat life’ will cover you when it comes to decent burgers and the type of Sunday roast your Nan would be proud of. Foreigners have been moving to Asia for years but it has taken some time for them to be able to re-create and sell their food. In recent years, Western food has been transformed!
Where’s the big size?
One of the first things you’ll notice upon arriving in Asia is that people are built smaller. Westerner’s are much larger – a simple fact!
In everyday life, this means that even if you are 5ft nothing and a size 8, you’re still going to struggle to find your size in most local stores.
The main problem for men is that boxers are a strange alien thing Western guys always talk about, and for women, jeans don’t look like they will accommodate one of your legs, so your hips are out of the question.
Over the years of development, Asian city’s have become more accommodating to ‘big size’ clothes. For the good quality, long-lasting clothes, you have to be willing to pay; with shops like Zara and H&M cropping up in shopping malls, you can shop as you would in your home country but the import tax will make you want to weep.
If you are a woman with larger feet or just an average man, then stock up on strong, good quality shoes before you leave your home country, and make sure you like them too, you’re not going to find anything other than flip-flops for some time.
Where do I go to get clothes, then?
Bangkok has more options than most other cities, with big markets such as Pranutam and Chatuchak and shopping malls like MBK and Siam Center that have a great variety of sizes, and prices to match.
In Ho Chi Minh City, you can find the rejects from factories of companies such as H&M, Forever 21 and Zara on the streets of District 5 and Tan Binh; be prepared to bargain.
Where do all the foreigners go and how do I meet them?
You’ve done it; you’ve got your house, a rough idea of how to get around, your settling into work; heck, you’ve got time on your hands! So where can you meet people?
Hunting out local bars in city’s that aren’t quite up on the marketing front is near impossible.
You can try to find out where bars are by doing a little search on Facebook and hope for the best, but having a look for local English publications and finding their recommendations will get you to the right place.
Alternatively, find out where the expats live in the city and check out the area; people love convenience. While this is not the most local or authentic social experience, it will give you somewhere to start.
Do you have anything you wished you thought of before you moved to Asia?